December 14, 2006 11:32 AM   Subscribe

What region/country/division does the red & yellow flag seen in the upper left of Monet's Terrasse à Sainte-Adresse signify?

My wife is a middle school art teacher and this question came up in class. I can't seem to find anything (Googling for "Terrasse à Sainte-Adresse" or "Garden at St. Adresse" bring up less than 10 results.

This was one of the pages I did find, but it is inconclusive.

Any ideas?
posted by JeremiahBritt to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (Googling for "Terrasse à Sainte-Adresse" or "Garden at St. Adresse" and flag bring up less than 10 results.)

posted by JeremiahBritt at 11:37 AM on December 14, 2006

Follow the pennants in your link.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2006

Response by poster: Red and yellow are traditional colours for Normandy and appear on the coat of arms of Sainte-Adresse, but I have not been able to find more information on the flag painted by Monet - which, therefore, might be one of the most famous unidentified flags.

---From the site.

As I said, inconclusive, and not updated since 2003.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 11:46 AM on December 14, 2006

Well, the normally helpful Flag Finder doesn't turn anything up.

I searched a bunch of ways for nautical flags, but I couldn't find anything. This signaling flag site shows that the Germans used a pretty similar flag to mean the number 7 (except that rather than tapering to a point the tip is truncated). I find it highly doubtful that's what Monet was seeing though.
posted by jedicus at 12:02 PM on December 14, 2006

Just in case the link goes bad, these are the two most informative comments from your second ("This") link:

There was indeed a yellow-red bicolour flag used by ships registered in the French Eastern colonies and Africa coast. The flag is shown yellow-red by several sources, and pennant 4 might be an erroneous depiction of this flag ... or the correct depiction of something completely different. Anyway, such a registration pennant is not expected to be hoisted on the promenade of Sainte-Adresse. The pennants were for ships only.
Ivan Sache, 6 November 2004

"Vlaggen van alle Natien" does further note that Pendant 4 was part of the "Reynolds" signal system, which it states was "the same as Marryats signals, besides the pendants". Marryat's Code of Signals for the Merchant Service was a system of 10 numerical pendants used to make a range of 4 digit numbers, each of was assigned a meaning. As the Marryat system, and presumably the Reynolds system usually hoist several flags and pennants together as a grouped signal, the use of a solitary signal flag on the shore is either "decorative", one of a series of signals (unlikely in a private garden) or the single flag had a local meaning, such as a private yacht club racing signal. However, it is not correct to say "The pennants were for ships only" as the pennant was part of a signaling system, it is equally valid to use such flags as part of a signal form shore to sea as from ship to shore.
Ralph Kelly, 6 November 2004

Very interesting question, but it doesn't look like there's likely to be a good answer, if the vexillologists are stumped.
posted by languagehat at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2006

Response by poster: I've emailed Dr. Whitney Smith, premier vexillologist. Unfortunately, I think this is something he charges for (quite rightly, as he is the flag man).

If he responds I'll post it here, but I'm not too optimistic.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 12:35 PM on December 14, 2006

It is noted that he was suffering from some eye problems during the time of the painting...

In addition to his professional setback at the Salon, Monet suffered grave personal problems during that year. His mistress, Camille Doncieux, whom he had met about 1865, was pregnant; his father, who disapproved of the relationship, refused to help financially, and Monet, all but penniless, was forced to leave Camille in Paris, while he accepted the shelter offered to him alone by his family in Le Havre. In July, as the birth approached, he suffered a partial loss of sight, preventing him temporarily from working out of doors and clearly a sign of his anxious state. But it was also a period of restless probing and experimentation in his art. Following the completion of Women in the Garden early in 1867, he pursued his interest in contemporary subject-matter, painting three views of Paris from the east balcony of the Louvre (e.g. St Germain-l’Auxerrois; Berlin, Neue N.G.; w 84) in which he further explored the nature of Realism as embodied in plein-air painting. In Normandy, despite the temporary problem with his sight, his work ranged from the powerful artifice of his Terrace at Sainte-Adresse (New York, Met., w 95), inspired in part by the style of Japanese prints, to the open, atmospheric naturalism of the Beach at Sainte-Adresse (Chicago, IL, A. Inst., w 92).
posted by icontemplate at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2006

"The flags, especially the tricolor on the right, may be a witty analogy to the composition"

- From this site, which seems to state the description is that of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
posted by icontemplate at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2006

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